This weekend is basically just an extended layover in New York for me. Last week I traveled to Miami for work and early tomorrow morning I will be flying out to Irvine, CA. Luckily both of these trips provide escapes from the bitterly cold weather we’ve been experiencing in town lately. Unfortunately they have made my life very hectic. There has been a lot of eating out, eating late, eating poorly due to limited options. I am very much looking forward to getting back to the East Coast next Saturday and settling back into a normal rhythm and routine.
I feel especially reinvigorated in my love of cooking by a lecture I attended Friday night. My dad and I went to see Jacques Pépin at William Paterson University’s distinguished lecturer series. What a fantastic couple of hours! Accompanied by his daughter Claudine, the world-renowned chef demonstrated his immense skill in the basics of cooking techniques and tricks. He also whipped up salmon tartare and “instant” gravlax. Within a matter of 15 minutes he had a simple, elegant spread that would be admired at any dinner party or buffet. Very fitting for the self-proclaimed “short cut cook.”
The seventy-seven-year-old didn’t miss a beat. He was cheerful and funny, a true delight to watch and to listen to. His experiences in the realm of cooking and of eating inspire the joy and care with which food should be treated. One of his last answers to a question asked of him by an audience member was summed up in this way: “It is more than food. It is comfort. It is life.” How beautifully true.
While I may not have hours every day to spend in the kitchen as Mr. Pépin does, I want to try harder to make that time to create real, nutritious, and worthwhile meals. Now and throughout my life. So as I jet off for another week of running around, I already look forward to my return, to some quiet time, and to more experiences in the kitchen.
For today, to get through the chilly, snow-dusted Super Bowl Sunday in Brooklyn, I made a batch of cookies to take to our friend’s party. These “Mexican hot chocolate” cookies are rich little treats full of warming flavors: cinnamon, chocolate, almond, espresso and cayenne. They may not be a piping hot mug of steamed milk and cocoa, but they are the next best thing. Stay warm, New York. I’ll be back soon.